Lawsuit Takes Aim At Interstate Gun Transfer Ban

Federal law prohibits me from purchasing a handgun from outside of the state and having it sent to my home. Instead, I have to have it shipped through a Federal Firearms License holder. It’s a pain.


It’s an even bigger pain for D.C. residents who don’t have much in the way of options in that regard.

Now, there’s a lawsuit seeking to change that.

They filed the petition for a writ of certiorari on behalf of two Washington, D.C., residents — Tracey and Andrew Hanson — who were denied the ability to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer in Texas. The District allows residents to purchase a handgun out of state (provided the purchase is certified by police), but federal law barred them from transporting the firearm to D.C.

“The ban on interstate handgun sales was adopted decades ago,” noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “prior to the advent of the National Instant Check System that is now in place. The Hansons have essentially been denied the ability to legally purchase a handgun from a licensed retailer because of this prohibition.”

The District of Columbia has no federally-licensed firearm retailers who maintain an inventory for sale to the public, according to the petition. If D.C. residents wish to purchase a handgun out of state, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban requires them to use the lone District-based FFL, who charges a $125 transfer fee.

The Hansons wanted to avoid the fee by purchasing handguns in Texas and, following both Texas and D.C. law, transport their new firearms into the District. But they knew that federal law prohibits such an action, so they filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. They challenged the federal interstate handgun transfer ban on its face and as-applied to them on Second Amendment and Fifth Amendment equal protection grounds.


The Fifth Circuit overturned a previous ruling that found the interstate handgun ban unconstitutional. Now it’s an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Further, Gottlieb has a point.

The interstate handgun ban was from well before the federal background check system was in place. With the current system, a picture of someone’s ID, an interactive web-based 4473, and maybe a selfie to verify you’re the one buying the gun and poof. All covered.

More importantly, is the fact that the Second Amendment is clear. The government shall not infringe on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, but any law that restricts your ability to purchase a firearm delays your ability to exercise that right. A right delayed is a right denied, hence this crap being a problem.

That said, there’s no guarantee that the ban will go anywhere. While I find it unlikely that the Court would uphold the ban, I’m not sure they’ll even bother to hear the case. The Court hasn’t taken a gun case since McDonald despite ample opportunity, including some very clear cases of infringement on our Second Amendment rights. There’s no reason to assume this is the case that will change that.

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